“I apologize, everyone, but we will need to delay the start of the show until 7:35 because we still have a line out the door. We didn’t expect so many people to come. Sorry, again, but thank you, everyone, for coming out tonight!”
I was surprised to not hear any groans from the crowd following the announcement. It was Saturday night, and the Rice African Student Association (RASA) was holding their annual dinner show, Africayé. Dinner started at 6:00, but when my friends and I got there at 6:10, the line was already far out the door and remained that way until the start of the show.
Africayé has always been a hugely popular event at Rice. The perfect combination of exotic but delicious food, foot-stomping music, and immersion into a lively culture so remote from most of our own is beyond worth the $5 ticket value, an opportunity Rice students are more than willing to drop everything for. Walking through the food line, my plate was loaded up with injera bread, a variety of meats, samossas, rice, and lentil stew. My heavenly gustatory experience was soon mingled with the heavy beat of traditional African music pumping through my body as my friend beckoned us to take our seats in front of the performance stage. We filled the time jamming and grooving to the drum sequences booming through the speakers and when the show started, my field of vision was flooded with colors, movement, and life. We screamed wildly for our friends who were performing, having never imagined that they could dance with so much purpose. The last number by the RASA dance team was incredible, bursting with an awesome sense of cultural pride and rendering everyone in the audience jealous that our bodies couldn’t move like that.
Cultural nights like Africayé are one of many at Rice. Ritmo! and Lunar New Year are equally enthralling, each in their own ways. I’m proud to attend a university where everyone celebrates everyone, and learning extends far beyond the boundaries of a classroom. The community that Rice fosters is one-of-a-kind, and I’ll be taking advantage of every opportunity to expand my limitless horizons. I’ve already added an entire album of traditional African music to my Spotify playlist.